I fear all women but especially women like Victoria

she entered my bar and I paid her little mind until she lost her temper hung up and dialed someone else

I need you to kick his ass. okay good, bye

she was quiet a moment

she asked for another malbec and said to me

so where do the men with money hang out around here?

I belonged to her now


Victoria was charmed by my convertible

Can I buy it from you? How much?

me Uh…well it’s salvage but I’ve taken good care of it so maybe $2000?

she smiled sweetly demurred

how about $1500 and a threesome?

I blushed but gathered myself

well, it wouldn’t be my first so probably $1750

it wasn’t until she came back to the car with beer, smokes and snacks that I really saw

Victoria did not walk she toured

the long trench coat the oversized football jersey the endless platinum tresses

somehow these things that were too big for her made everything around her shrink

as I filled my car she drew a fat ass sitting on a giant dick on my rear windshield and smiled a smile that could buy my car twice on a good day

I took her back to the airport because Judith hadn’t yet landed

Victoria kissed my cheek looked at me with sleepy, contented eyes

I wondered how did I know this person all my life but only meet them today?


Victoria’s voice was an expose

I heard her teeth through the phone straight and true nipping her bottom lip gently as she asked if I could pick up beer

it’s after midnight I said

then mixers she replied impishly and snacks

the pleasure of the happily delayed

I was not prepared for our first kiss

she in Chantilly lace under a sheer robe

me holding bags of lemon lime and salty snacks on the threshold to her suite

I stocked the fridge, made drinks and sat on the bed

I cannot convey how w h o l e s o m e we were

Victoria and Judith talked about knowing each other since high school in Ohio

they stumbled into the life separately but ended up touring together from state to state to state duo or solo

Victoria, a Junoesque pleasure tower Judith, a wirey half-inked nymph they loved it all enough to call it matrimony

I told stories also about the orgies I attended in college about how the worst day waiting tables was better than the best working newspapers

I said I admired how they lived on the margins, but still putting down roots every place they went

they said they appreciated a man who reads

it made me miss the days when I could have made their stories something regular people would see

a guy came by to sell weed

I didn’t smoke but things blurred I don’t know how many rounds I had or how many cigarette breaks we took

honestly, it was all I could do to focus on Victoria focusing on me

I kept asking myself if this how it’s supposed to feel fingers intertwined in the hotel hallway stolen kisses in the elevator sitting close like kids grinning through grand theft auto

around 3 am I asked her how much and she said $—.00

we closed the door to the bedroom as Judith packed another bowl, saying she really wants to play Bingo

in the dark our smiles were triboluminescent


to me lies of omission are the most noxious

worse than any fiction dead eyed in lamplight

it’s the editing

the palming of the corporeality

you did not just see that because you did not just see that

Victoria told me she wished she filmed me as I sang for her in bed

Sukiyaki a capella the words warm and round in a throat that slept too little

she poured more champagne as the continental breakfast sat in the microwave

returned to bed to read a poem about when I delivered Chinese food

her face contorted as her voice resurrected the murder of a co-worker I secretly pined for

she put the journal down and kissed me face still hot with tears the taste of yeast, apricot and umami

we closed our eyes zephyrs mounting between us

that night, I showed up with chicken sandwiches for her and Judith

Judith laughed as Victoria said she’s so sick of me talking about you

we left to share wine pondside

the dull roar of traffic the trace flow of pond water parted by dawdling waterfowl made our murmurs hair raising

I asked Victoria what do you want to be called? a sex worker? an escort?

baby she whispered her smile aflare in moonshine


it’s me I’m the one I can’t stand

after the champagne aurora before the late night reverie I left Victoria at the airport

she kissed me and coughed a cough she had all week

she tasted like the Miller High Life she swiped when we stopped at my house between hotel and airport

it was overcast and through her sunglasses her pupils were dilated

what’s wrong? she asked nothing I said

I went home and napped while she had two more rounds where we met

Victoria was substantial a dense, stramineous Jessica Rabbit

but all she had was a pilfered grapefruit and two kinds of champagne in her stomach

I’ll never know how it got started but the agent wouldn’t let her on the plane

that black bitch Victoria spat that night

stop it, you’re being racist Judith interjected

am I? Victoria looked to me like a child caught cursing

I grimaced I nodded

also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . she voted for him . . . . . . . . . . . but regretted it

there was another night where I met her and Judith with a folder of blank bills of sale and my rebuilt salvage title

my flannel-bound auto buddy Alex met us his eyes merry, his smile resplendent as Judith ran her fingernails along his beard

you’re a big boy she cooed as I showed Victoria how to shift

this is so perfect! she announced we could road trip from here to Florida!

she turned to Judith right babe?!

the words were lost to ether

Judith’s sweet nothings and Alex’s chortle’s were a green door made of mineral wool and cement

I had lunch with my mom in the morning so I left as they made off for a bar

around 4 am my phone rang

bro, what THE FUCK were those girls you left me with?

everything was cool at the bar, even if the both of them are kind of wild together

but we went back to the room, alright, and they both started messing around and it was awesome at first but then fucking Tits Magee walked over to me with her bathrobe wide open and grabbed me by the collar telling me to throw down $—.00 on the night stand because she wanted to watch me “fuck her wife” and maybe join us

dude I’ll admit that even that was…..AWESOME…even if it WAS terrifying but I told her I didn’t have that kind of cash on me

that was when she pushed me and not some playful shit either this was a fucking overture

she was like, oh my bitch isn’t good enough for the price I’m asking?, and then someone was pounding at the door

the fucking night audit, he was already getting noise complaints before Victoria was talking shit

she yelled at him to mind his own fuckboy business and he slammed the door and jet

Judith was freaking out telling Victoria to stop but she kept shoving me until I backed out the door and she didn’t even give a shit

she’s in the hallway in her robe with her tits and pussy on fucking parade and fucking vice grips for hands on my shirt telling me I’m just a little, white, broke ass bitch boy and I’m like, ‘girl my last name is Hughes-Ortiz so you’re only partly right there’

and then this officer fucking materialized between us

I guess the audit threw an alarm before he came to the room

the cop asked her to calm down and that was when it stupidly occurred to me she was probably coked up because she came at him like he was just another me shrieking insults and throwing hands and completely losing it

he slammed her against the door and put her in bracelets as another officer arrived to escort her to the lobby

I could hear Judith crying in the room I think she was sitting against the door

they held me there for a little while I sort of lied to the cops

I mean shit was fucked up but I didn’t want to get her into trouble because of, you know, so I just said she was too drunk and got too angry over a misunderstanding

they took Victoria, I don’t know what for exactly

and I didn’t say bye to Judith, I just left

this was the same night I watched Victoria make the call

someone who maybe gave her the slightest bit of attitude getting their ass whooped as all this went down

and in light of everything Alex told me I spent the following days falling for her

only now do I, a former journalist and current bar wrangler, understand how much I know about taking comfort in chaos


Further reading: Why Sex Work Must Be Decriminalized (And Why The Nordic Model Is Bad)

FOSTA/SESTA Is Making Trafficking Worse and Hurting Sex Workers Everywhere